Martin de Porres
Known for his compassion and service to the poor, Martin’s example provides our guiding spirit.
- born in Lima, Peru
- illegitimate son of a Spanish nobleman and a freed black slave
- raised in poverty
- at the age of 12, he learned barbering and the medical arts of the day
- at 15, he began working with the Dominicans as a lay helper and, eventually became a professed Lay Brother
- tended the sick in the monastery infirmary
- cared for the needy in the town, sometimes through miracles
- spent hours each day in prayer
Why the dog and the broom? Here’s the story:
The mice were holding a “convention” in the monastery wardrobe, feasting on the linens. Some of the friars wanted to poison them, but Martin would not hear of it. He caught a little mouse, held him gently, and said, “Little brother, you and your companions are eating the things belonging to the sick? Look; I shall not kill you, but you must gather your friends and take them into the garden. Every day I will bring you food if you leave the wardrobe alone.” After Martin let the mouse go, mice scurried out from every nook and cranny. Martin led the mice to their new home. Every day he brought them a meal and no mouse ever again ate a meal in the monastery wardrobe.